2018 Mint 400

Click Here to Begin Slideshow If you could only choose one desert race to take on, we have a suggestion: Go to the Mint 400, The Great American Off-Road Race. The Mint 400 is a spectacle to behold and certainly one of the crown jewels of American off-road racing. There is nothing like it, though the Ultra4 King of the Hammers is a very, very close second. However, there is an argument that they aren’t similar at all; the only thing they share is that they run on the dirt. That’s certainly one thing to consider, so we can agree that the Mint 400 is “The Great American Off-Road Race.” It certainly utilizes its Las Vegas location to bring grandeur that not many other off-road races can. A long strip of Fremont Street is closed for four days just for the contingency and tech inspection for the race. Even when you’re at the race course, The Strip and Downtown Las Vegas are only thirty minutes away… Well, they would be if it weren’t for construction on I-15. However, that’s not the fault of the Best in the Desert or of the Martelli Brothers, the owners of The Mint 400 race. This year was both special and somber. This was the first Mint since BITD and the Martellis took it over that Casey Folks wouldn’t be with us. Casey was the original owner of the BITD and one of the keys to bringing back the Mint. He was always easy to approach, unafraid to answer questions and highly respected by the off-road community. His famous “Booyah” cry was shouted before the start of the drivers’ meeting in remembrance to him. It was also not that long ago that Chad Ragland, son of the famous Larry Ragland, passed away and he was also remembered during the same meeting. On Thursday, the Trick Trucks, 1500 Unlimiteds and 6100 Spec Truck all had their qualifying runs in a time trial format. The TTs and 1500s went out together but spaced out, as this was a run to see who could set the fastest time. The winner would get a single car start and everyone else would have to start in pairs. Surprising the field was the YouTheory Unlimited driven by Harley Letner. Normally it’s the TT’s that dominate these time trials in the open desert, but Harley felt like the very technical course suited the 1500s better than the TTs, which he certainly proved by being just 1.32-seconds faster than a TT. While Letner got the coveted one-minute of single car run time and clean air, the RPM trucks of Apdaly Lopez and Clyde Stacy were going to be right behind him. What’s crazy to consider was that the separation between the Baja 1000 champion, Lopez, and Stacy was a minuscule 1.5-seconds. Apdaly’s truck is also a traditional, well traditional in relative terms, TT, while Clyde was in the twin-engine, all-wheel-drive TT. No, we didn’t write that wrong - one engine powers the front wheels and the other powers the rear. See, we told you that “traditional” was a relative term. Instead of a random draw, the 6100s could qualify for their positions just like their bigger brothers, the TTs. The first ever time trial winner for 6100 was Ryan Millen – brother of Formula Drift Champion Rhys Millen, son of off-road legend Rod Millen and nephew of Steve Millen of Stillen - in the Atkinson Toyota TRD Spec Truck. His time of 5:01.695 was just 1.06 seconds faster than Rafael Navarro IV in the Pete’s Camp Ford Raptor. You’d think that having all that clean air would guarantee a win, especially since the 400 is a three-lap race of the grueling Nevada desert and each lap is just over 118-miles long. Well, if you think that you haven’t been watching desert racing for very long. Things change in a hurry and the desert doesn’t care if you’re the fastest or even a champion. Unfortunately for Rob MacCachren, that desert would bite him. On his way to the completion of his first lap, a bad bump caught Rob off guard and caused his truck to buck and roll. He and his co-driver were fine and able to get it to the pits, but there was too much damage to fix and their day was done. The same could be said for Letner, as he was able to stay ahead only until the second lap. Harley would end up 8th overall but first in class. A puncture allowed Bryce Menzies and Apdaly Lopez to pass him. However, Lopez suffered a light bar malfunction, preventing him being able to see during the closing lap while he was leading. He hit a rock which damaged the air jack system. That rock also cost them a tire and the win as he and his co-driver had to rely on a standard mechanical jack. Apdaly was the first physical finisher, but that stoppage cost him three minutes of time. In the 6100 class, the lead start wouldn’t get Ryan Millen the win, either. Bobby Pecoy took the win at the end of the day, but he started in the 21st position in the Monster Energy/Desert Assassins truck. Terry Householder in the Householder 6100 and Nick Mills in the Mills Motorsport 6100 rounded out the 6100 podium. Ryan Millen, the number one qualifier in 6100, failed to finish due to a mechanical failure. Those three minutes Lopez lost during the race was all Bryce Menzies, in the Red Bull Ford Raptor, needed to take the overall victory of the 50th Mint 400. The separation between himself and Lopez was just 28 seconds. He completed the course in five hours and 52 minutes at an average speed of 60 MPH. “My grandfather passed away last week,” Menzies revealed. “He was always such a role model for me and I want to make him proud; this win is for him.” Not only is this win special for remembering his grandfather, but it also put him into a unique category as being a repeat winner of the Mint 400. If you wanted to know just how tough the Mint 400 was for these drivers, out of 180 racers, only 80 reached the finish line by midnight. Going from dusty and dry to wet and muddy would catch most everyone by surprise, no matter which class was still running. The 2018 running of this Great American Off-Road Race was a celebration of life, the open desert and the community that surrounds off-road racing. Next year - well, we already know a little bit about what’s coming as we’ll see the motorcycles and quads return. Until then, it’s all a guessing game as to what comes next.

2018 Mint 400

Click Here to Begin Slideshow

If you could only choose one desert race to take on, we have a suggestion: Go to the Mint 400, The Great American Off-Road Race.

The Mint 400 is a spectacle to behold and certainly one of the crown jewels of American off-road racing. There is nothing like it, though the Ultra4 King of the Hammers is a very, very close second. However, there is an argument that they aren’t similar at all; the only thing they share is that they run on the dirt.

That’s certainly one thing to consider, so we can agree that the Mint 400 is “The Great American Off-Road Race.” It certainly utilizes its Las Vegas location to bring grandeur that not many other off-road races can. A long strip of Fremont Street is closed for four days just for the contingency and tech inspection for the race. Even when you’re at the race course, The Strip and Downtown Las Vegas are only thirty minutes away… Well, they would be if it weren’t for construction on I-15. However, that’s not the fault of the Best in the Desert or of the Martelli Brothers, the owners of The Mint 400 race.

This year was both special and somber. This was the first Mint since BITD and the Martellis took it over that Casey Folks wouldn’t be with us. Casey was the original owner of the BITD and one of the keys to bringing back the Mint. He was always easy to approach, unafraid to answer questions and highly respected by the off-road community. His famous “Booyah” cry was shouted before the start of the drivers’ meeting in remembrance to him. It was also not that long ago that Chad Ragland, son of the famous Larry Ragland, passed away and he was also remembered during the same meeting.

On Thursday, the Trick Trucks, 1500 Unlimiteds and 6100 Spec Truck all had their qualifying runs in a time trial format. The TTs and 1500s went out together but spaced out, as this was a run to see who could set the fastest time. The winner would get a single car start and everyone else would have to start in pairs. Surprising the field was the YouTheory Unlimited driven by Harley Letner. Normally it’s the TT’s that dominate these time trials in the open desert, but Harley felt like the very technical course suited the 1500s better than the TTs, which he certainly proved by being just 1.32-seconds faster than a TT.

While Letner got the coveted one-minute of single car run time and clean air, the RPM trucks of Apdaly Lopez and Clyde Stacy were going to be right behind him. What’s crazy to consider was that the separation between the Baja 1000 champion, Lopez, and Stacy was a minuscule 1.5-seconds. Apdaly’s truck is also a traditional, well traditional in relative terms, TT, while Clyde was in the twin-engine, all-wheel-drive TT. No, we didn’t write that wrong - one engine powers the front wheels and the other powers the rear. See, we told you that “traditional” was a relative term.

Instead of a random draw, the 6100s could qualify for their positions just like their bigger brothers, the TTs. The first ever time trial winner for 6100 was Ryan Millen – brother of Formula Drift Champion Rhys Millen, son of off-road legend Rod Millen and nephew of Steve Millen of Stillen - in the Atkinson Toyota TRD Spec Truck. His time of 5:01.695 was just 1.06 seconds faster than Rafael Navarro IV in the Pete’s Camp Ford Raptor.

You’d think that having all that clean air would guarantee a win, especially since the 400 is a three-lap race of the grueling Nevada desert and each lap is just over 118-miles long. Well, if you think that you haven’t been watching desert racing for very long. Things change in a hurry and the desert doesn’t care if you’re the fastest or even a champion. Unfortunately for Rob MacCachren, that desert would bite him. On his way to the completion of his first lap, a bad bump caught Rob off guard and caused his truck to buck and roll. He and his co-driver were fine and able to get it to the pits, but there was too much damage to fix and their day was done.

The same could be said for Letner, as he was able to stay ahead only until the second lap. Harley would end up 8th overall but first in class. A puncture allowed Bryce Menzies and Apdaly Lopez to pass him. However, Lopez suffered a light bar malfunction, preventing him being able to see during the closing lap while he was leading. He hit a rock which damaged the air jack system. That rock also cost them a tire and the win as he and his co-driver had to rely on a standard mechanical jack. Apdaly was the first physical finisher, but that stoppage cost him three minutes of time.

In the 6100 class, the lead start wouldn’t get Ryan Millen the win, either. Bobby Pecoy took the win at the end of the day, but he started in the 21st position in the Monster Energy/Desert Assassins truck. Terry Householder in the Householder 6100 and Nick Mills in the Mills Motorsport 6100 rounded out the 6100 podium. Ryan Millen, the number one qualifier in 6100, failed to finish due to a mechanical failure.

Those three minutes Lopez lost during the race was all Bryce Menzies, in the Red Bull Ford Raptor, needed to take the overall victory of the 50th Mint 400. The separation between himself and Lopez was just 28 seconds. He completed the course in five hours and 52 minutes at an average speed of 60 MPH.

“My grandfather passed away last week,” Menzies revealed. “He was always such a role model for me and I want to make him proud; this win is for him.”

Not only is this win special for remembering his grandfather, but it also put him into a unique category as being a repeat winner of the Mint 400.

If you wanted to know just how tough the Mint 400 was for these drivers, out of 180 racers, only 80 reached the finish line by midnight. Going from dusty and dry to wet and muddy would catch most everyone by surprise, no matter which class was still running. The 2018 running of this Great American Off-Road Race was a celebration of life, the open desert and the community that surrounds off-road racing. Next year - well, we already know a little bit about what’s coming as we’ll see the motorcycles and quads return. Until then, it’s all a guessing game as to what comes next.

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